Denmark: The ‘Best CEO of the World’ to retire at Year’s End

The CEO of Novo Nordisk, who was named ‘Best CEO in the World’ by the Harvard Business Review in October 2015, will not have a chance to dominate the ranking again next year. He will retire by the end of the year (and have some well-deserved holidays).

Lars Sorensen, or rather, Sørensen, joined the world-leading producer of Insulin, Novo Nordisk, 34 years ago and has been CEO for the last 16 years. He transformed the company into a very successful and highly respected pharmaceutical company. It is now the largest company of Denmark and by far, with a market cap bigger than the combined one for all other public Danish companies, of which there are 40.

One of his key decisions during his tenure at Novo Nordisk was to focus solely on diabetes instead of trying to diversify in other areas like cardiovascular diseases, CNS or cancer. It’s clear that this was a great move when you look at the massive size of the diabetes market, and sure enough, the company rose to the top of Danish biotechnology.

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Another decision was to spin out Novozymes as an ‘independent company,’ though it’s still held by the Novo foundation and its headquarters is within walking distance of Novo Nordisk’s. The subsidiary is today the World’s leading enzyme producer and employs over 6,000 employees worldwide. This is what makes it the most successful Industrial Biotech company I can think of.

Sorensen will be replaced by Novo Nordisk’s vice-president, Lars Jorgensen, on 01 January, 2017. In Sorensen’s words, “[Jorgensen] is a great businessman and people leader and has a natural ability to find solutions where others see problems.” He will certainly have his acumen put to the test: Novo Nordisk is facing increasing competition in the US market and an aggressive strategy from new competitors like Servier and the billion-dollar Biotech, Intarcia.

But it won’t be all sunshine and Caribbean cruises for Sorenson: after he relinquishes his position, he will join the board of Novo A/S, the biggest backer of Novo Nordisk that manages the billions of euros the company generated over its existence. We have no doubt we’ll see him again soon in the headlines.


Featured image credit: Novo Nordisk

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